On May 31, 2018, the Jerusalem Post published Teaching Israelis about China based on a survey conducted in 2017 investigating The attitudes and perceptions of Israeli’s towards China, its people, and the Belt & Road Initiative. Led by SIGNAL, the project is the first of its kind conducted in Israel. The study was funded by China’s Ministry of Education and was initiated by SIGNAL Fellow, Dr. Li Wei, faculty and Research Fellow at the Institute of Middle Eastern Studies (IMES) at Northwest University in central China where SIGNAL has had an Israel studies Program since 2013.
Is China an up-and-coming aggressor determined to govern the global order? That seems to be the conventional view among some Western pundits and politicians. From snubbing former U.S. President Obama upon his arrival at last year’s G20 summit, to not participating in the arbitration of the South China Sea territorial dispute, China appears intent on throwing its weight around as it rises to prominence on the international stage.
While it’s true that the People’s Republic of China jealously protects its national interests, the conventional view is problematic because it lacks the broad historical-cultural perspective that is necessary for evaluating Chinese behavior. As Israel continues to strengthen its connection to the Middle Kingdom, it’s important that Israel’s leaders know how to assess Chinese behavior independently of the Western conventional wisdom. The 2016 South China Sea ruling is helpful for illustrating what the Western perspective misses.